Srinagar: Army chief General Bipin Rawat rejected the claims of return of Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) to fight the insurgency in Kashmir, the Indian Express reported on Saturday.
“We are not returning to classical CASO in Kashmir, because we know they cause hardship to the local people. These are area search operations. It is not even a cordon,” General Rawat told the newspaper.
The Army had discontinued CASO nearly 15 years ago because of diminishing results from these operations. Moreover, such operations alienated the local population due to the difficulties they faced, the report said.
However, last month, the army carried out a massive CASO in about two dozen villages in Shopian. According to reports, 4000 army men carried out the CASO with helicopters and drones pressed in to mark the return of crackdowns that were a common feature in the ’90s.
General Rawat, however, said that the job of the army is to separate the “terrorists from the Kashmiri people and target the terrorists”.
“We understand that all Kashmiris are not involved in the so-called militancy. There are few, select in number, who indulge in terror and violence. Our job is to separate the terrorists from the Kashmiri people and target the terrorists,” General Rawat told the Indian Express.
“Unlike a classical CASO, where the population of a village would be rounded up and brought to the village centre at the break of dawn, random search operations, directed at certain houses in villages of south Kashmir, will be conducted. The aim of these area search operations is to mount pressure, move the militants out of villages and into the forests. As intelligence sources have dried up and public protests have made operations in villages difficult, there are greater chances of success from counter-terror operations in forested areas,” the report quoted sources as saying.